It’s almost global knowledge that Hollywood’s blockbuster movies have generated a dominant cultural hegemony that echoes America’s image as the world’s greatest superpower. A notable example is 2004’s disaster epic, The Day After Tomorrow. In the final scene of the movie, the new President Raymond Becker, begins his speech with the traditional ‘my fellow Americans’ even though it’s obvious that he is addressing the world; as if America speaks on behalf of the global community (Langley, 2012). Hollywood has succeeded in selling America as a utopian society that is devoid of errors (Andrew, 2014). And even though the internet did not become mainstream until around 1999 (Spiegel, 1999) Hollywood continued to sell the United States as the undisputed leader of the free world (Langley, 2012). Until one event led to the tipping of the scales, the birth of YouTube.
The domain name “YouTube.com” was activated on February 14, 2005 with video upload options being integrated on April 23, 2005. Six years later, it became the 3rd most visited site in the world, next to Google and Facebook (Cayari, 2011). It is also the first major website dedicated for uploading and viewing of videos, putting creative power in the hands of the individual, and not the industry. The traditional medium of Hollywood dominating visual media isn’t quite yet on the verge of extinction, but it’s starting to struggle maintaining its dominance as the United States’ representative to the world. One no longer needs writers, editors, producers and a sales team to build content (Solis, 2014). Power is going to the people, with YouTube as their main weapon, with heroes such as Felix Ulf Kjellberg of PewDiePIe fame to wield it.
Although I give deference to PewDiePie as the de facto ambassador of YouTube (even after the fallout from his anti-Semitic joke), I am not a fan, nor do I care to watch other personalities like him such as Smosh or the [Jake and Logan] Paul brothers. At the risk of sounding like and elitist hipster, I’d like to say that I’m more partial to:
- Video essayists such as Evan Puschak (Nerdwriter1), John Green (vlogbrothers, Crash Course) and Hank Green (vlogbrothers, SciShow)
- Pop-culture analysis websites such as Wisecrack (whose user-tag is still Thug Notes, the OG, so to speak) Screen Prism and MatPat’s The Game and The Film Theorists
- News/documentary driven sites such as Now This/Seeker Daily (formerly Test Tube) and Ted Talks. In my opinion, TED Talks would not be as internationally widespread as it is today without Youtube. Without TED Talks, the efforts of Jessica Jackley would not be heard, and her organization, kiva.org, would not be able to help so many future entrepreneurs all over the world.
Kiva.org and similar non-profit organization can easily spread their message through Youtube and the internet in general. They no longer need to pay television networks to air their commercials, or promotion firms to sell their business. All it takes is the knowledge of web design and digital media analytics, to turn up in Google’s search lists when typing “non-profit.” Although movie companies and TV networks still have the market on mass media, the world wide web allows the transfer of information to be independent from them, and it balances the power of the haves and have-nots closer and closer together.